|The only certainty is that nothing is certain. - Pliny the Elder|
No. 210, Part I, 27 October 1995
We welcome you to Part I of the Open Media Research Institute's Daily Digest. This part focuses on Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, distributed simultaneously as a second document, covers Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Back issues of the Daily Digest, and other information about OMRI, are available through our WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/OMRI.html RUSSIA YELTSIN HOSPITALIZED AGAIN. Helicopters rushed President Boris Yeltsin to the Central Clinical Hospital at 2:30 p.m. Moscow time on 26 October, with a recurrence of the myocardial ischemia that forced him to seek treatment for a month last summer beginning on 11 July, ITAR-TASS reported. Doctors at the hospital said that his condition was less serious than it was in July. Presidential aide Viktor Ilyushin blamed the president's condition on his tiring trip to France and the U.S. Doctors plan to release a full report on the president's condition on 27 October, but Ilyushin said that the president will not return to work in the next few days. Russian media carried unusually extensive coverage of the president's medical problems. -- Robert Orttung YELTSIN'S ILLNESS MAY TORPEDO YUGOSLAV SUMMIT. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev told journalists on 26 October that President Yeltsin's illness may lead to the cancellation of the scheduled 31 October Moscow meeting of the Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian presidents, Russian and Western agencies reported. A final decision on the meeting will be taken on 27 October, he added. Medvedev also announced that Yeltsin had postponed his scheduled 8-11 November trip to China and would probably postpone a planned 20-21 November visit to Norway as well. -- Scott Parrish GRACHEV AND PERRY BEGIN TALKS ON BOSNIA. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev arrived in Washington on 26 October to begin talks with his U.S. counterpart, William Perry, on the terms of Russian participation in a proposed peace implementation force for Bosnia, Russian and Western agencies reported. Despite claims by President Yeltsin and his U.S. counterpart, Bill Clinton, at their Hyde Park summit that they had resolved the issue, Perry emerged from the first round of talks with Grachev and told journalists that "a distinct gap" remains between the Russian and U.S. positions. On 27 October, Grachev and Perry will fly to Fort Riley, Kansas, to observe the joint Russian-U.S. Peacekeeper '95 exercise. -- Scott Parrish SHAKHRAI TO TAKE UNPAID LEAVE DURING CAMPAIGN. Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai told voters in Kaliningrad that he will take unpaid leave in order to devote himself full-time to the Duma campaign, Russian Public Television reported on 26 October. Although Shakhrai remains in the government, his Russian Unity and Concord party quit Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home is Russia on 30 August. Before the president's heart trouble, Chernomyrdin was planning to discuss his own leave with Yeltsin early next week. On 26 October, his bloc announced that it did not make sense for him to take a leave of absence, NTV reported. -- Robert Orttung GAIDAR CLAIMS SUPPORT IN COMMUNIST STRONGHOLDS. Russia's Democratic Choice leader Yegor Gaidar said that his party had no trouble collecting signatures, even in areas with "heavy Communist influence." Gaidar called the Communist Party of the Russian Federation a "national- socialist imperial party." If it came to power, Gaidar said, it would not consciously try to dismantle the market system but would "destroy its fundamental foundations" by trying to recreate the empire and increasing defense spending and agricultural subsidies. That, he said, would return the country to the chaos of 1990-1991, ITAR-TASS reported. NTV commented that those remarks could provoke the Communists to sue Gaidar. -- Robert Orttung COMPETING PEASANTS' CONGRESSES IN MOSCOW. Rival political parties claiming to represent the interests of rural dwellers opened congresses in Moscow on 27 October, ITAR-TASS reported. Vladimir Bashmachnikov's Union of Private Landowners is leading the All-Russian Congress of Peasants-Landowners. Bashmachnikov's union strongly supports private farming with full property rights for farmers; it has joined the electoral bloc Our Home Is Russia. Mikhail Lapshin's Agrarian Party of Russia (APR) initiated the All-Russian Rural Assembly. The APR mainly represents the interests of agricultural collectives. It would allow private ownership of small garden plots but categorically opposes land reform to legalize the buying and selling of large tracts of farm land. Both congresses hope to attract rural support for their parties in the December parliamentary elections. -- Laura Belin CHAMBER ON INFORMATION DISPUTES BACKS CHERNOMYRDIN. . . The president's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes found charges that Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin used a television interview for campaign purposes "groundless," Ekho Moskvy reported on 26 October. Chernomyrdin was accused of campaigning for his bloc Our Home Is Russia during a September appearance on local television in his home region of Orenburg. The prime minister's accuser, a Communist member of the Orenburg legislature, did not turn up for the hearings, and the chamber found no evidence demonstrating that Chernomyrdin had talked about his bloc during the interview. -- Laura Belin . . . AS NEVZOROV DISPUTES CHAMBER'S AUTHORITY. Aleksandr Nevzorov, a Duma deputy and the host of the controversial news magazine "Dikoe Pole" (Wild Field), said the president's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes lacks the authority to rule on violations of the law or the constitution, Ekspress-khronika reported on 27 October. The chamber recently recommended that Russian Public TV (ORT) drop Nevzorov's show on the grounds that a June broadcast violated the privacy rights of inmates in a women's prison (see OMRI Daily Digest, 20 October 1995). In an angry letter to the chamber, Nevzorov called the decision "rubbish." ORT continues to broadcast "Dikoe Pole." -- Laura Belin RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT ENDORSES CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION PROGRAM. The Russian Chief of the General Staff, General Mikhail Kolesnikov, announced that the government had approved a plan for destroying its stocks of chemical weapons by 2005, Interfax reported on 26 October. Kolesnikov said the 40,000 tons of chemical weapons now in storage would be destroyed in facilities located across Russia, which would then be decommissioned by 2009. Col. Gen. Stanislav Petrov, chief of the Chemical Defense Force, said the destruction process would begin with 11,500 tons of lewisite and mustard gas, which have been held in railway storage tanks since 1953. Kolesnikov said the destruction program would cost 16.6 trillion rubles ($3.68 billion). Russia has signed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention but still has not ratified it. -- Scott Parrish DUMA DEPUTY REFUTES START II REPORTS. Sergei Yushenko, the chairman of the Duma Defense and Security Committee, denounced reports in the Western media that the Duma intended to ratify START II only with amendments and conditions, ITAR-TASS reported on 26 October. Yushenko said that although his committee had discussed the treaty at a closed session on 17 October, it had not yet reached any conclusions. Also on 26 October, Mikhail Demurin, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, urged the Duma to ratify the treaty in its current form, which he said corresponded with Russia's national interests and strategic capabilities. Demurin also reaffirmed the official Russian position that START II can only be implemented if the 1972 ABM Treaty remains intact. -- Scott Parrish RUSSIA FAVORS CREATING CIS INTERIOR MINISTRY COUNCIL. Following a conference of the CIS interior ministers in Yerevan, Russian Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov told Interfax on 26 October that he supported forming a CIS Council of Interior Ministers to coordinate the fight against organized crime. During the conference, the CIS interior ministers signed accords on cooperation between CIS law enforcement agencies in fighting organized crime. Bilateral accords were signed between Armenia and Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus. The CIS interior ministers will meet again next spring in Dushanbe. -- Constantine Dmitriev INCREASING TENDENCY TO HOLD SAVINGS IN FOREIGN CURRENCY. According to the Institute for Economic Analysis, there is an increasing tendency in Russia to hold personal savings in hard currency, Moskovskaya pravda reported on 26 October. In May-June 1995, only 9.7-9.8% of the population had savings accounts in foreign currency. By August 1995, this figure had increased to 15.2%. At the same time, only 3.6% of the country's population opted for savings in rubles. The Institute's analysts believe that the situation reflects public distrust in the government's promise to keep inflation low. -- Natalia Gurushina NEW DEVELOPMENTS ON FINANCIAL-INDUSTRIAL GROUPS. There are now 21 financial-industrial groups that have been taken under the government's wing and included in the special register of such groups in Russia, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 26 October. Membership in this exclusive "club" is granted only to those groups whose activities do not conflict with the government's economic and structural policy. By September 1995, 281 companies (among them 62 financial institutions) had become members of financial-industrial groups. Those companies employ 2 million workers and their industrial output is worth nearly 30 trillion rubles ($6.7 billion). It is expected that financial-industrial groups will eventually account for more than 50% of the country's industrial output. -- Natalia Gurushina ECONOMICS MINISTRY ISSUES PER CAPITA INCOME PROJECTIONS FOR 1996. The Economics Ministry predicts a 29% increase, to 727,000 rubles ($162), in monthly per capita nominal income in 1996 compared to 1995, Moskovskaya pravda reported on 26 October. According to the report, per capita expenditures will go up to 702 thousand rubles a month (a 31% increase compared to 1995). The prognosis shows that during 1996 real per capita income of the population would fall by 3%. The projected monthly inflation rate in 1996 is expected to be 1.0-1.2%, down from 7.5-8.0% in 1995. As is pointed out in the ministry's report, those figures represent just one of the possible scenarios for economic development. It is quite feasible that the 1996 average monthly inflation rate would be much higher --about 3%. -- Natalia Gurushina CORRECTION. On 24 October, the OMRI Daily Digest erroneously reported the departure of 150 Russian peacekeepers from Tomsk for the Peacekeeper '95 exercise at Fort Riley, Kansas. The troops actually departed from Totsk, Orenburg Oblast. Last year's Peacekeeper '94 exercise was also held in Totsk, not in Tomsk as reported TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA GEORGIA WILL GET RUSSIAN NATURAL GAS. Georgia will import gas from Russia and use it exclusively for the needs of power engineering, Interfax reported on 26 October. Russia will deliver 400 million cubic meters of gas in exchange for manganese, pipes, tea, wine, and other agricultural products. Sources in the Georgian government said that the price for Russian natural gas, including shipment to the border, will be about $70 for 1,000 cubic meters, which is $10 less than Georgia used to pay for Turkmen gas. Georgia stopped purchasing gas in Turkmenistan as Georgian customers began accumulating debts that have reached $450 million. -- Irakli Tsereteli TAJIK OPPOSITION'S NEW STRATEGY. The Tajik opposition will meet with Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov in Ashgabat on 29 October to discuss the next round of inter-Tajik talks. A spokesman for the United Tajik Opposition, Ali Akbar Turadzhonzoda, told Interfax on 26 October that the opposition would "suggest a number of compromises." Turadzhonzoda said the Tajik opposition had sent proposals to the leaders of the Central Asian states to send representatives to attend future meetings between the Tajik government and the opposition. -- Bruce Pannier ANTI-AKAEV DEMONSTRATION IN BISHKEK CALLED OFF. A demonstration planned for the five-year anniversary of President Askar Akaev's election to office by the Supreme Soviet has been called off, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz BD, possibly because law enforcement agencies did not grant the organizers official permission. Rather than hold an illegal rally, the opposition forces canceled the event. -- Bruce Pannier KYRGYZ, CHINESE SIGN AGREEMENTS. Agreements on scientific and technical cooperation, quality control on imports and exports, and education were signed by Kyrgyz Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov and Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng, according to a 25 October Kyrgyz Radio report monitored by the BBC. -- Bruce Pannier ASHGABAT'S DIPLOMACY. Diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and Turkmenistan have been established on an ambassadorial level, the Wakh news agency reported on 25 October. In other news, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov held talks with Hu Jinato, a visiting member of the Chinese Communist Party's politburo, the Turkmen Press agency reported. Niyazov was reported to have praised the growing cooperation between Turkmenistan and China; he also claimed that the preparatory research on the Transasian pipeline to carry Turkmen gas across China to Japan had been completed. -- Lowell Bezanis [As of 1200 CET] Compiled by Victor Gomez The OMRI Daily Digest offers the latest news from the former Soviet Union and East-Central and Southeastern Europe. It is published Monday through Friday by the Open Media Research Institute. The OMRI Daily Digest is distributed electronically via the OMRI-L list. 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